My coming out story is more of a story about coming out to myself than it is about coming out to others. When I first started to question my sexuality, I was 11, and in 6th grade. All my life, my ”crushes” had been on boys; after all, that was who girls were supposed to like, wasn’t it? Unless they were gay, of course, but I constantly reassured myself in that, despite the fact I found girls attractive since I liked boys, I wasn’t gay. I successfully convinced myself that all straight people checked out people of the same gender and that sexuality was a very binary thing, with the two options being gay or straight. And, as I told myself repeatedly while admiring the girl in my math class, I was not gay. My parents were always very accepting, and continue to be to this day, but I don’t think it had occurred to any of us, my mother, father, or me, that there were options beyond gay and straight. Even further from our minds was the fact I could, in fact, be anything beyond gay or straight.
Eventually, the admiration of the girl in math class turned into a fully-fledged crush. I didn’t allow myself the privilege of acting on it, or even thinking about it, because I (as I told myself more and more frequently) was not gay. I procrastinated any ”coming of age” sexuality questions until the end of 6th grade. The end of 6th grade brought a term into my life that I would begin to know well, fear, and eventually, love. My math class crush told me she was bisexual. After a brief explanation on her part and a few stammered questions on mine, there was a third option. Bi-sexual. The ability to love plural genders, as the musician Dodie put it so eloquently. As I delved deeper into internet research, searching and scouring for something to tell me if I was bi, I discovered even more identities – pan, omni, poly, and a host of others. But somewhere, after around 7 online quizzes, and a bit of self-talk, I realized I was bi.
I began to let myself have crushes on girls, and though I still dodged questions about my sexuality like hot bullets, I knew deep down who I was. I came out to my parents and friends at various points during middle school and entered 9th grade an out and proud bisexual. By the summer of 10th grade, I had been ”out” for almost 3 years, depending of course on who you asked. I went to Pride festivals and had a bi flag. But I felt like there was more.
I thought back to 6th grade. I had spent time trying to find a label and a community that loved me, that could help me love myself. I found it through random quizzes and a girl in a class; surely, there had to be a better way. With that in mind, I started my own Instagram page, dedicated to bi people, and began to make and post bisexual positivity, and memes. I wanted to help the girls and boys, who were questioning their sexuality, and I wanted to help the older bi folks connect and know that they were not alone. My page, Safebispace, grew quickly, and my love for the LGBTQ+ community, our community, grew with it. I didn’t want anyone to feel lost or alone in their sexuality. Though I remain one of 3 bi people in a 200 person high school, I remain out, and I remain proud. You never truly stop coming out; you often are asked questions, and occasionally teased. But you must never stop being proud. Because my pride in who I am, our pride in who we are, can unite us. Together, we can rise.
-Tabby, age 16
Before I begin, I just want you to know that I’ve been extremely lucky with my coming out story.
As I was coming to grips with my bisexuality over the years, I resorted to believing that I didn’t need to come out, likely because I envisioned myself exclusively dating women, and therefore would simply never need to bring up the subject of my sexual orientation to family and friends. Then came a journalism internship where I briefly wrote into an article that I wouldn’t personally label my sexuality, which I shared with family and friends. For me that was enough, I had made my tiny, yet terrifying statement and they could draw their conclusions from there.
Then came my move to Washington, D.C. in my third year of university, where I became comfortable with who I was. There I attended a queer support group where I listened to the stories of mainly gay, lesbian and transgender people who had been thrown out of their homes, attempted suicide and been assaulted for their very existence. I knew then that I was doing these people a disservice by not living my authentic truth, no matter what the consequences were of coming out.
I decided that I wanted to make my coming out a positive thing for the world to be apart of, so when I saw a journalist from the Huffington Post looking for people to feature in an article on what it meant to have Pride, I jumped at the opportunity to share my words. I told her that “Even though bi people make up the majority of the LGBT community, I feel there is a lot of bi-erasure, recently seen with Lady Gaga and the erasure her sexuality faces, Pride [festival] should be more inclusive of the erasure bi people face.
“Often I and other bi friends I have are made to feel like outsiders in the LGBT community, or feel like we don’t really belong, some choosing to call themselves allies because they don’t fit ’stereotypes’. As Pride is a protest, we should be adamant in fighting for awareness of the stigma bi people face.”
I knew that in sharing this article online, I would need to tell those closest to me I was bi. I had recently found it incredibly hard not to blurt it out as if it was eating me from the inside. I was eating dinner as the article came out, and I knew it was time to tell my parents after I’d finished eating. A few months before I had mentioned to my mum that I wasn’t completely straight in one sense or another, so this did make things slightly easier. I was acutely aware that I’d once I’d finished my pasta bake, my life would change forever. I was deathly silent as I ate my dinner, and my Dad kept checking if I was alright. “I’m fine!” came my jumpy responses.
Finally, I put down my plate, my voice shaking, and told them that I was being featured in an article about Pride and that this was because I was bi.
They couldn’t have taken the news better. We discussed bisexuality and why we all agreed it should be normalized in society and that I shouldn’t have felt scared to tell them. I am very appreciative that my coming out story is not filled with violence or rejection, but love and acceptance.
The stigma around coming out as bisexual still exists, however. Society views bi people as having one foot in the straight world and one in the queer world. There are myths spoken that “being bi is just the step before coming out as gay” and there is exasperation that we can’t just “choose one gender.”
Our existence may be complex and multifaceted, but we are completely real people. And if you’re out there and worried about living out loud, I want you to know that whenever you’re ready, sharing your true authentic self with someone you love, and then the world, is the most beautiful thing you can do.
The article I was featured in is linked here: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/why-we-need-pride-in-2019_uk_5d1f3f16e4b01b834734e7a6?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly91ay5zZWFyY2gueWFob28uY29tLw&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAGqqcvDi74wfpXugPsqMrsUQV39JRe8IrCQykKZ8CTkLl-kNCUk4_UTPCDj8rvg2_eAnbu7t-YE5gzGgMlZTOS2-HxFJ1YpgS-51cNeQ1Dh4BOVBfF2m1-D54TTP_NeReUdnG2OIh5uAMBnOo5CeGW8na964cYieeiNvR8BYd0l_ Written by Nicola Slawson
I came out as Bi at the age of 17. That was many years ago.
Here is what I heard.
- You’re probably just a lesbian.
- You’re confused.
- You just like sex too much. Editors note: Really is there a too much on that one. ?
- You just haven’t met the right man.
- Have you even had sex with a man/woman?
- How do you know?
- You have to grow up.
- Pray it away.
- That’s sexy. Wanna have a threesome?
- My boyfriend loves Bi girls.
- I don’t want to date you. You just can’t make up your mind.
- You’ll grow out of it.
- Could you have sex with me so I can try it out. Editors note: This one always came from allegedly straight women.
I could go on but you get the gist. A lot of things have happened in the years since that day but suffice to say it was not a phase and I am still as Bi as I have ever been. I started using Twitter this year and what I found is very little has changed since I came out. Bisexuals still face the same Bi-phobia I did and, in some ways, it is worse because due to the proliferation of social media there is intentional ‘outing’ of those not quite ready to make their sexuality public, there is cyber-bullying, there is cyber-stalking. It almost makes the Bi-phobia I faced seem ‘quaint’ in comparison. However, the truth is that Bisexuals still struggle with their identity, still spend more time in the closet than gay men or lesbians, have a higher suicide rate than gays or lesbians, and have difficulty finding a supportive community. It felt good, even in an online forum to dispel some of the toxic assumptions that cause so much pain and heartache for the Bi community and so I decided, perhaps, I could provide the same support in blog form to young Bis, to those just coming out at a more ‘seasoned’ age, to those who don’t have Bi friends in their geographical location or to those just tired of all the ‘weird bi-phobia’ that we have to put up with all the time. It also felt freeing to do so without the 140 character limitation. ?
There are a zillion blogs out there…some that’ll help you with sex questions/some providing information about polyamory/some strictly political in nature/some with answers to kink questions/the list goes one. I don’t purport to be any Bi expert but I have been around a while and maybe (I hope) I have accumulated a little wisdom on the subject. This will probably be a mix of political/social information, hopefully, some laughs,…but most importantly support for those struggling, those doing ok but could be better, those tired of the anti Bi bullshit, or those just looking for a place where it is absolutely ok, no…fantastic to be Bi. In my view, being Bi is a gift, a joy, a delight, a superpower and I would not change the way I am for anything or for anyone!
When only 28% of Bisexuals come out as compared with 77% of gay men and 71% of lesbians (per 2013 Pew Research Center survey) we know there is a serious problem. Bis don’t feel safe. Bis don’t feel supported. We have to work to change that. My personal solution is ‘radical visibility’. I make every effort to make sure the people in my life, the people at work, the people I come in contact with on a regular basis know that I am Bi. It may seem a small thing but almost every day I have an opportunity to say nothing or say something. I choose to say something. I choose to speak for those who don’t feel they can.
If anything I share helps one person, supports one friend, heals one heart then my mission is accomplished. I just hope I can do more. ❤ Together we can create a community where Bis feel supported and where they feel safe enough to be visible.
Dear Bis. You are valid. You matter. You are important. I see you. We can do this. ❤